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10 Ways to Pick the Wrong Cabinet Hardware

Don't get lost in the hardware. Take along a roadmap and avoid these ten common mistakes when choosing those cabinet fittings.

Mistake #1.
Not Spending Time Choosing the Right Hardware.

Okay folks, picture this: You're redoing a gorgeous kitchen in what was an adobe vacation cottage in Taos New Mexico, and which is now your first new home. It has a domed ceiling and birch wood trim all along the outline of the plaster walls. Floor to ceiling windows bring the vast desert landscape with its painted mountains right into your kitchen.

While at the showroom looking over cabinet models you see the street scene through the storefront window and think that through your kitchen windows you see a genuine natural masterpiece. Just then the salesman mentions choosing a cabinet color. You order a sage grey finish to complement and cool the stark landscape through your windows. It's the perfect touch that will please you for years.

Then he asks about the hardware. What kinds of knobs and hinges to put on your masterpiece? On the sample board it is immediately apparent that all the knobs and hinges have nothing to do with that lingering fantasy involving the continuity of cabinet coloring and view. They would just distract. Except for the white ceramic knobs that hint at the clouds over the mountains.

Customize that hardware to your specifications. Since most cabinets are custom or semi-custom, picking the right fixtures should be the customers choice not the factory's.

Mistake #2.
Choosing The Most Popular One.

When you get a look at the sample board of knobs, pulls, and hinges, catches and fasteners don't get dazzled by the fashion statement and forget that you're choosing a drawer pull not a piece of jewelry. The intent is to blend into the overall design of your kitchen, not overwhelm it. That's not to say you can't have any fun; Save that whimsy for the closets and drawers of the children's room, and maybe the kitchen after a few years when you might want to brighten up a drab ho-hum feeling. The first choice should be with an eye on enhancing and supporting overall design.

Traditional kitchen cabinets look best with dull, or matte finished metal hardware in stainless steel, nickel, pewter or brass in traditional even shapes. Usually only a modern motif with a lot of stainless steel accents and sharp angles can incorporate shiny chrome, polished or enamel hardware in unusual designs.

Mistake #3.
Picking The Wrong Type of Hinge For Your Cabinet Design.

Cabinet hinges not only open and close cabinet doors, they also hold the doors to the cabinets. Doors are literally "hung" onto the hinges. Therefore they have to be strong enough to bear the weight of the door.

Height and weight of cabinet doors determine how many hinges you need. For a cabinet door less then 40 inches high and less then 11 pounds, two hinges are sufficient. For a door 40 - 60 inches high and 13 - 20 pounds, three hinges are needed. For a door 60-80 inches high and 29 - 33 pounds, for hinges are required. For a door 80 - 85 inches high and 40 - 48 pounds, five hinges are necessary. If too few hinges are installed onto heavy doors, too much stress is put on the hinges under repetitive use and the hinge and door will either break or pull out. make sure to pick the right size hinge for your door's weight and height.

Mistake #4.
Choosing The Wrong Pulls For Your Cabinets.

This is especially important for a simple kitchen update. Pulls are similar to knobs but take up more space on the drawer front and are usually a bolder, more noticeable statement than knobs. If changing the pulls is on the agenda, make sure the screw holes are lined up with the new pulls properly.

Changing the pulls from one size to another, or converting over to a knob should not mean an unsightly drawer front is the result. Bring along an old pull to compare the size at the retailer. One possibility, if the pulls are a must have, but they don't fit into the pre-existing holes of the drawer front, use a back plate along with the pull to cover the old markings.

Mistake #5.
Spending Too Little Money.

The right cabinet door hinges may be expensive, relative to what you get. But save your frugality for the supermarket, where a mistake won't be noticed for years. Don't buy aluminum hinges or hardware that just shows you saved money. Even if they are only an after-thought in your design, they will be prominent in your day to day life. Get the best you can afford and even better than you can afford. It will pay off every time you look at your kitchen, not to mention opening and closing those doors and drawers thousands of times.

Remember, a poorly designed or cheap hinge leads to falling

doors and weak stress points. A hinge on sale that you think is only slightly too small for your cabinets will become apparent that its not the right type for your doors in the finishing and will not function optimally. Choose the features that are important to you and buy the best in your category.

Mistake #6.
Spending Too Much Money.

Avoiding extravagance must be balanced against avoiding frugality. More is not better and just right is what to aim for. Don't buy more hardware than you need; extra hardware can add up. At 80 to 180 dollars or more per hinge, and 150 dollars or more for top of the line drawer slides off the shelf a few extras hanging around can mean losing that copper pot set that looked so nice on the wooden pot rack in the store.

It's not like buying extra screws, nuts and bolts which can hang around inside your grandmothers old coffee cans for generations. Usually, cabinet hardware does not need much replacement. Properly installed, high quality hardware should at least last the life time of your cabinets, and will probably last for the next two generations making spares unnecessary.

Mistake #7.
Not Buying Door Catches.

If the cabinets are not self closing cabinet door catches must be purchased. There are two types of hinges: those that self-close, and those that are not self-closing which require a cabinet door catch. The majority of hinges are self-closing therefore, purchasing a separate door catch is unnecessary.

A word of caution: make sure those off the shelf, factory direct sized cabinets have a self closing hinge, many don't, or your cabinet doors will swing wildly about in your kitchen. There are different types of door catches to choose from and each one has its advantages.

Magnetic catches, the most common type and the cheapest, open and close with a light push on the door. Because they have a noisy click, some people who are disturbed by the sound may not consider this a desirable option.

Friction catches are invisible, quieter, and very secure. They cost more and use two parts to operate: an open side, and a projectile side.

Spring roller catches are quiet and invisible, and are used on an inset type door, with or without a frame.

Test the different options out at the showroom on cabinets identical or similar to yours to get a feel for what to buy.

Mistake #8.
Drawer Slides Are Not So Important Because You Can't See Them.

Details such as these make the difference between a kitchen that is a pleasure to use, or one with so many quirks that add up to a plain old nuisance.

Some old kitchens have drawers that sag down in the frames. This drawer has runners that are too light for the drawer and its' contents. What about a drawer that jiggles from side to side, sometimes falling down on one side? This drawer has runners that are too shallow for the wheels. A drawer that has one side higher than the other? This drawer has been improperly installed. Drawer slides are as important as cabinet hinges so choose them carefully. Look for full extension slides which are runners that extend the entire length of the drawer making the whole drawer fully accessible.

Mistake #9.
Expensive Hinges Don't Need Expert Installation.

Don't ask, but beware, cabinet hardware installation must be done properly or the kitchen won't function optimally. For best results have the contractor or the master carpenter at least oversee the job . Don't leave this one to the day laborers.

Factory seconds can also be problematic when it comes to fixture installation. Not everything matches up so nicely when it's from the bargain bins at the back of the store. Before these fittings leave the store, get a guarantee in writing, that these parts are suitable regarding design, function and installation.

Mistake #10.
Why Spend More on Drawer Stops That Are Optional?

Because in fact they are necessary to hold the drawer into the cabinet frame. The term "optional" in this case, only means would you prefer the drawers not spill their contents all over the floor or not? It's simply not a practical or safe option to do without.

Get the best kitchen by enhancing that new kitchen cabinetry with the finest fixtures designed for years of pleasure and good use. provides timely advice to common home improvement problems. These practical tips will give you the knowledge you need to save time and money on all of your home improvement projects.

Copyright Bob Williams -

Written by: Bob Williams

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